Mobilizing world’s resources vis-a-vis climate change

This is the moment to say that we are heading into a disaster. We have waged war on nature, and nature is striking back and striking back in a devastating way.

September 10, 2022

I am no stranger to Pakistan. I have a love affair with your country in the past 17 years ago, when I started my functions as High Commissioner for Refugees. I have always witnessed their enormous generosity, receiving at the (time) more than six million Afghan refugees, protecting, assisting them, sharing your meagre resources with them. I’ve seen your generosity, helping each other, helping family, helping communities.

When I came in 2005, because of the earthquake, when I came in 2010, because of the floods, and when I came later, during the dramatic incursion of terrorism around the Swat Valley and further, closer to Islamabad, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, and I was there, with them.

And so, I know what it means for the Pakistani people, this unprecedented natural disaster. There is no memory of anything similar to what has happened with the impact of climate change on Pakistan.

And I want to reassure you that we’ll do everything possible to mobilize the international community to support your country and to support all of you in this very dramatic situation in which, beyond the numbers — the numbers are appalling — but beyond the numbers, I see the families that have lost their loved ones. I see the families that lost their houses. I see the families that lost their crops. I see the families that lost their jobs, and that are living in desperate conditions at the present moment.

I have seen the enormous effort, that response from civil servants, the government, from the army, from the NGOs, from the population, even an extraordinary demonstration of solidarity within the provinces of Pakistan.

And I want to say a few words to the international community. Pakistan needs massive financial support to respond to these crises that have cost, according to some estimates that I’ve heard today, about $30 billion, and counting.

That support is entirely necessary. And it is not a matter of solidarity. It’s a matter of justice. Pakistan has not contributed in a meaningful way to climate change. The level of emissions in this country is relatively low. But Pakistan is one of the most dramatically impacted countries by climate change. It is on the front lines of the impact of climate change. It is absolutely essential that this is recognized by the international community, especially by those countries that have contributed more to climate change. And that effective solidarity, effective justice is now shown by mobilizing massive support for relief, for rehabilitation or for reconstruction after these devastating impacts of the monsoon, of accelerated melting glaciers.

At the same time, this is the moment to say that we are heading into a disaster. We have waged war on nature, and nature is striking back and striking back in a devastating way. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries.

We need to stop the increase in emissions and start reducing them now. At the same time, we need to mobilize much more resources to support those countries that need to build resilience. It is what is called adaptation that need to create the conditions to resist the impact of these devastating disasters caused by climate change.

And at the same time, as a matter of justice, to put seriously on the table in the next Conference of States Parties to the convention (on climate change) the question of loss and damage that is something that has been, (until) now, not discussed seriously in international climate talks. This is a time to mobilize everybody’s efforts to mitigate climate change. And this is the time to mobilize every group of people to support massively the Pakistani people in this dramatic moment.


Secretary-General Guterres’ remarks following a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the National Flood Response and Coordination Center in Islamabad.

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